Spinal Cord Injury Talk
Today is World Spinal Cord Injury Day. In Australia there are 12,000 people living with a spinal cord injury and each year there are approximately 400 new cases.
Each individual's spinal cord injury is unique and complicated. My spinal cord injury didn't occur like the 80% of spinal cord injury cases. I wasn't involved in an accident. At 6 weeks of age neurenteric cysts were found throughout my spinal cord. The cysts had been formed during gestation and it I having side effects from the cysts on my spine and loss of weight when they were found through a MRI.
Neurenteric cysts account for 1% of spinal cord tumours and most cases are found in adults. My injury occurred at the t3 level and then damaged my lower cervical area. I am a complete t3 paraplegic which means I have no control or sensation from my stomach down and everything up to my chest is numb. Common side effects from having a injury at t3 level are limited trunk control, autonomic dysreflexia, minimal body temperature control, limited leg and torso function as well as not having control over your bladder and bowel. From having limited trunk control I have shocking balance. My sister can playfully lightly shove me on a bed and i'll fall over instantly. Also putting my hands above my head to do basic tasks like tie up my hair needs concentration to keep my balance upright.
After the intitital injury it is always the worst news first. It's the you'll never be able to walk again, you may never have use of your arms or you may not be able to breath on your own. My parent's heard many phrases until I was two, they were told that I may never be able to sit on my own, never be able to sit up, never be able to use her arms on top of never being able to walk.
Due to my injury damaging the lower cervical section of my spine I have poor grip on my right hand and my right hand is numb. My right hand looks weird when I do things because of the poor dexterity. Some of my friends joke and call it my chicken foot. I've even joked and referenced my hand to being like the dinosaur from the Disney film 'Meet the Robinsons'.
Living with a spinal cord injury and overcoming the initial injury takes tremendous hard work. There isn't as much spinal cord injury awareness in society, it is almost like the injury isn't talked about. It's discussed when you break your arm or leg and have to spend 6 weeks in a cast. However, it is almost as it's completely different if that injury turns to be on your spine and is even more damaging. That's something that I used to struggle with, it's almost normalised if you have an arm injury but having an injury on your spine isn't spoken about.
Not only on days like today but also everyday, prevention and awareness of spinal cord injuries should be discussed openly. Like Australian Paralympian Dylan Alcott, I wouldn't change my injury for the world but I wish society was more aware of the injury that is occurring within our world so prevention can happen.